Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
United Kingdom, 1949. Transatlantic Pictures. Screenplay by James Bridie, adaptation by Hume Cronyn, based on the play by John Colton, Margaret Linden, from the novel by Helen Simpson. Cinematography by Jack Cardiff. Produced by Sidney Bernstein, Alfred Hitchcock. Music by Richard Addinsell. Production Design by Thomas N. Morahan. Costume Design by Roger K. Furse. Film Editing by Bert Bates.
Alfred Hitchcock’s magic touch fails him in this passable but mostly forgettable drama, his second film made in colour. Michael Wilding plays an optimistic Irishman who travels to the still freshly colonized Australia in the hopes of making his fortune. Upon arrival he becomes friends with Joseph Cotten, a wealthy man of the locality but also a much disliked citizen with a criminal past. Spending time with him, Wilding also meets Cotten’s wife (Ingrid Bergman), with whom it turns out our newcomer was once friends back in Ireland. Eventually, an illicit love affair and a hidden murder scandal guide these characters through two hours of endlessly soapy drama, but neither the talent of the cast, the beauty of the photography and costumes, nor the assured guiding hand of the famed director can turn it into anything particularly interesting. The more suspenseful aspects of the story are surprisingly underplayed, while the character development, as deep as it tries to be, never provides for much entertainment. Bergman is fantastic as always, and is ably supported by Margaret Leighton as the duplicitous housemaid, but don’t expect too much.